A professor of Radiotherapy and Oncology in the University of Lagos, AderemiAjekigbe, has called on the federal government to allocate oil blocks to be used to generate funds for the treatment and management of cancer in the country instead of its allocation to individuals. He made the call while delivering the 21st inaugural lecture of the University of Lagos titled: Cancer, the Unwanted Guest that May Visit. According to him, the fight against cancer in the country is not yielding desired results, because funds are not available to manage the disease.
“When funds are distributed with priorities and evenly distributed, the one allocated to the fight against cancer will help in achieving tremendous results. “I will therefore call on the federal government to allocate an oil block to cancer for early diagnosis and management. It should stop allocating these oil blocks to individuals,” he stated. Ajekigbe said if this is done; the country will be able to buy all the cancer treatment machines needed for its management. “The unavailability of these machines is also contributing in a big way to the high incidence level of the disease in the country. With this oil block, we will also be able to repair the spoilt machines as they are usually very expensive to repair.
“Also to be allocated to cancer early diagnosis and management is 5 per cent of the gross income of all members of the executive and legislature at federal, state and local government levels and we will see the wonder these deductions will do in early detection of cancer and its management,” he stated.
He, however recommended that laughing gas which is a mixture of nitric oxide and oxygen should be used in dispatching people during riots, instead of tear gas. “I have used this gas successfully in the dressing of the very bad bilateral breast ulcer of a patient in Lagos University Teaching Hospital, LUTH and it worked like magic. “This gas should be made in canister forms and be used instead of tear gas during students or general riots or whenever law makers are scaling fences for crowd control without harm to the protesters who will instead laugh back to their various homes.”
Ajekigbe, who frowned at government’s efforts in fighting the scourge in the country, however revealed that Nigeria has only eight cancer treatment machines in the country with justfour currently working. According to him,“33.3 million Nigerians are entitled to only one machine, making it far inadequate for the growing cases of cancer recorded in the country daily. He, also compared the number of machines in the country to that of some selected countries like China which has 667 cancer treatment machines with only 210,000 citizens entitled to one machine, compared to Nigeria’s 33.3 million citizens.
Comparing further, he said Egypt has 53 cancer treatment machines, South Africa has 40 while Japan has 816 machines. “With these comparisons, you will agree with me that Nigeria is not yet ready to battle the scourge which is a medical emergency. “Most Nigerian cancer patients have little or no access to radiation oncology services. In the country today, there are only 30 radiation oncologists, 8 medical physicists, 18 Radiotherapy technologists, 26 Oncology Nurses and 2 conventional simulators,” he explained.